Vietnam asks its major cities to prepare for lockdown to stop coronavirus

A worker disinfects a street in Hanoi on March 29, 2020.
A worker disinfects a street in Hanoi on March 29, 2020.PHOTO: REUTERS

HANOI (REUTERS) - Vietnam's prime minister on Monday (March 30) asked major cities to prepare for possible lockdowns to stop the spread of the coronavirus as the number of confirmed cases in the South-east Asian country almost reached 200.

"Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have to review and update plans to battle the virus, and have to stand ready for city lockdown scenarios," Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said in the statement.

“Vietnam has entered the pandemic’s peak period, major cities have to speed up and take advantage of each hour and minute to carry out defined measures,” Phuc said. 

The Vietnamese government has ordered a halt on inbound flights, cut domestic flights, stopped public gatherings and temporarily shut down non-essential services until April 15 at the earliest. 

It has also launched an aggressive quarantine and contact-tracing programme to curb the spread of the virus after an influx of infections brought in by Vietnamese citizens escaping outbreaks elsewhere and by foreign visitors.

Vietnam has confirmed 194 infections but has had no reported deaths, according to the health ministry. More than 75,000 people are in quarantine. The country aims to keep the number of infections under 1,000.